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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (12/10)

Friends,

It’s Thursday, December 10, 2020. Welcome to my weekly COVID-19 newsletter, and happy Hanukkah to all who are celebrating.

Manhattan has had 49,907 cumulative confirmed cases and 3,234 deaths (3,579 more cases and 6 deaths since last week). The city as a whole has had 340,974 total cases and 24,411 total deaths (23,228 more cases and 114 more deaths since last week), according to nonprofit news site TheCity.nyc’s COVID-19 tracker.

Those raw numbers don’t really tell the full story; experts say seven-day averages are a more reliable indicator of the course of the pandemic:

  • Manhattan’s seven-day positivity average as reported by the New York State COVID testing dashboard is 2.5%, up from the 2.2% reported in our last edition.

  • The seven-day citywide positivity average as reported by the NYC Dept. of Health is 5.32%, up from the 4.76% reported in our last edition.

Get COVID tested on Roosevelt Island this Saturday (12/12) and Sunday (12/13) from 8 am – 7 pm at Good Shepherd Plaza (542 Main St.), sponsored by NYC Test and Test, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation and me. Bring your insurance card if you have one– it will be free regardless.


COMMENT

I know that the holidays may not look the same as they have in the past, but New Yorkers giving the gift of hope and love is something this pandemic can’t take away from us.

This holiday season, I’m partnering with The Sled, an organization begun last year by moms who collected toys for students at P.S. 188 on the Lower East Side and P.S. 76 in Harlem after reading a NY Times article about the lives of students who attended these schools, many of whom live in temporary housing.

The Sled is unique in that donors can select specific gifts that will go to specific children— 1,300 of them this year (after expanding to also include P.S. 111 in Hell’s Kitchen, P.S. 145 in Manhattan Valley, P.S. 676 in Brooklyn and six family homeless shelters). The selection deadline for the gifts to be delivered in time is THIS Tuesday (12/15). 

Roosevelt Island no longer has a bank branch, and I’m calling on banks in NYC to open a badly needed one in that 12,000-resident community. Roosevelt Island has only ATMs, so anyone who needs other banking services has to leave the island.

I testified on the NYCHA draft PHA Agency Plan and NYCHA “Blueprint for Change” Tuesday (12/8). While I voiced concerns about resident protections, I’m hopeful about “A Blueprint for Change” and look forward to working with NYCHA leadership to ensure residents will receive timely and high-quality repairs to their units.

The proposed plan to provide $366 million to fund capital improvements at the Fulton, Chelsea-Elliott and Chelsea Addition NYCHA developments will be presented at virtual engagement sessions this month. Residents of these developments should attend and provide their very valuable feedback:

In the “Before Times,” the New York City creative sector employed over 400,000 workers, generated $110 billion in economic activity, and accounted for 13% of the city’s economy each year. Now, theaters won’t reopen until at least June, and museums can only operate at 25% capacity. To help the arts community recover, the City Council today (12/10) passed Int 2068 to create an “Open Culture” program, which would allow arts and cultural organizations to use outdoor space for events from March through October of 2021. The bill was paired with Int. 2034, which now requires the City to create a website with information on open spaces for art and cultural programming.

It’s a busy time in my Land Use department– we’re currently working on the 20 projects in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) pipeline throughout Manhattan listed below. (I’ve already issued 160 opinions since I became Borough President.) This graphic explains how a ULURP moves through the city planning process.

  • 61-63 Crosby (74-711) – (N21001ZSM) – Community Board 2

  • 5 Mercer (74-711) – (N200205ZSM) – CB 2

  • 65 Spring (74-711) – (N200169ZSM) – CB 2

  • Harlem East Harlem Urban Renewal Application (210067HUM) – CB 10 & CB 11

  • Zoning for Coastal Flood Resiliency (N210095ZRY) – City-wide

  • 23-25 Cleveland Place (N140439ZRM) – CB 2

  • Harlem (NCP) Western Site (C200279HAM) – CB 10

  • Central Harlem Infill (C200278HAM) – CB 10

  • Harlem Open Door Cluster (C200276HAM) – CB 10

  • Restore the George City Map Change (I180024MMM) – CB 12

    The following projects are not yet certified by DCP and their ULURP clock has not yet started ticking:

  • Governor’s Island (ULURP No. To Be Decided) – CB 1

  • Lenox Hill Hospital (ULURP No. TBD) – CB 8

  • 250 Water Street (ULURP No. TBD) – CB 1

  • SoHo NoHo (ULURP No. TBD) – CB 2

  • NY Blood Center (ULURP No. TBD) – CB 8

  • 633-639 West 142nd Street (ULURP No. TBD) – CB 9

  • Las Raices (ULURP No. TBD) – CB 11

  • 343 Madison Avenue (ULURP No. TBD) – CB 5

  • Grand Hyatt (ULURP No. TBD) – CB 5

  • Starrett Lehigh (ULURP No. TBD) – CB 4

More than a century has passed since American suffragists girded for their final push to win the ballot for women in every corner of the United States. Using my “Pioneers of Women’s Rights in Manhattan Walking Tour,” visit the sites around where you can see reminders of the struggles and achievements of New York women who spoke, marched and even fought for the vote and the full panoply of rights. Make a day of it, and visit all the sites to learn more about these extraordinary women who paved the way for generations. (The late Betsy Wade– a pioneer in NYC journalism who recently died– and her husband compiled and wrote this wonderful guide)

I’m happy to announce that Shawn Jean-Louis joined my office this week as the new education policy analyst. Previously, Shawn was at Bridgeup, an afterschool program run through the New York Public Library. A graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, his concentration was in education policy and management. His email is sjean-louis@manhattanbp.nyc.gov.

Apply now to join your Community Board, the most grassroots form of local government. The Boards are pivotal in shaping their communities and work to enhance and preserve the character of the city’s many unique neighborhoods. Applications close Monday, 2/1/2021.


NEW FACTS/INFO

Gov. Cuomo said in his Monday briefing that indoor dining will be shut down in New York City as early as Monday if hospitalization rates don’t stabilize before then. (Cuomo’s budget director Robert Mujica provided this insight into why indoor dining will likely be shut down soon.)

The city’s Department of Education announced that applications opened today (12/10) for children applying for a kindergarten seat next fall; the deadline to submit applications is January 19, 2021. Parents should check the DOE website for further information and sign up for update emails at https://www.schools.nyc.gov/sign-up.

There’s still no word on middle and high schools admissions deadlines, and also no updates on the specialized high school admissions tests, which were originally scheduled for October 21.

Clients who receive GetFoodNYC home delivery meals can now re-enroll on the day before their last delivery day to help prevent a gap in deliveries. In the urgent scenario where a client has no food, the GetFood team can arrange a triage delivery– contact seniorfood@dsny.nyc.gov.

Businesses and organizations can donate extra food and supplies to local organizations that can then redistribute them. Details about eligible donors and recipients can be found online: For food donations visit nyc.gov/donatefood; for non-food donations, visit nyc.gov/donate.

The NYC Dept. of Sanitation has released snow guidelines for Open Restaurants; the 2021 schedules for NYPD Community Precinct Council meetings are available here; and 2021’s alternate side parking calendar (PDF) has been released.

In case you missed it, my office’s capital funding presentations for schools, city agencies, nonprofit organizations and cultural institutions are now available online here.

Links roundup:

Pandemic Puts NYC’s Obscure Law Enforcement Agency In The Spotlight: The Sheriff’s Office Explained
By David Cruz, Gothamist, Dec. 9, 2020

A gamble pays off in ‘spectacular success’: How the leading coronavirus vaccines made it to the finish line
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post, Dec. 6, 2020

Infectious disease experts face disillusionment as COVID-19 pandemic worsens
By Hanna Krueger, Boston Globe, Dec. 4, 2020

This includes what is probably the quote of the year from Harvard School of Public Health professor Michael Mina:

At almost every step of this pandemic, we have failed magnificently as a country, and in ways that we just really didn’t need to fail…  I’m just astounded by the dysfunction, the willingness to just stay the course as hundreds of thousands of people die, and the unwillingness to innovate in literally any way. It’s just the most mind-bending, complete ‘Twilight Zone’ experience that makes you ask why the hell we even bother.”


ANNOUNCEMENTS

Applications are now open for the Cultural Arts Capital Loan Fund from the Fund for the City of New York. This loan initiative provides bridge financing to assist small and mid-sized nonprofit cultural arts organizations with their capital project expenses, with a priority to groups that have capital grants from the Borough President, City of New York and the Department of Cultural Affairs. BIPOC-led organizations are strongly encouraged to apply. Fill out this inquiry form to start an application.

Stonehenge NYC has opened applications for “Still Standing Artist Residencies,” an initiative they’ve begun in response to the pandemic, which provides free housing to 20 creative artists for one year. Applications close on January 10, 2021– submission and residency details can be found on the Stonehenge NYC website. Recipients will live rent-free in a Stonehenge one-bedroom apartment, in exchange for commissions of their work, beginning in March 2021.

The Off-Broadway Toy Drive benefits a family shelter in Times Square. Send or drop off toys at the Theater Center, 210 W. 50th St., 4th floor (drop-offs accepted Monday – Friday and Sunday 10 am – 1 pm). Those donating a toy worth $10 or more can email the receipt to offbroadwaytoydrive@gmail.com to receive a voucher for one free ticket to participating Off-Broadway shows in 2021.

Community and advocacy group Open Doors’ campaign to protect nursing home residents and workers from COVID is holding a holiday mask drive for Roosevelt Island’s chronic care facility, Coler Speciality Hospital.

Teachers can now apply for the virtual 2020-21 CS4All Hack League. Middle and high school students work with open data to address issues in their communities, competing in a boroughwide competition– and winners go on to a citywide competition.

Dominican Historic Neighborhoods is an interactive website from the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, and the first of its kind dedicated to the documentation of residential neighborhoods across the US with a Dominican presence that dates back over half a century.

Last night (12/9) was The Lehrer Prize For Community Well-Being’s inaugural gala. The prize, named after WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, recognizes a standout idea, individual or organization that has contributed meaningfully to improving the quality of life in NYC. The honorees are Allison James-Frison of Girls; Live, Love, Laugh, Inc.; Pedro Rodriguez of La Jornada; and Heather Butts of H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths. Watch the gala here.

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EVENTS

Tomorrow Friday (12/11) 10 am – 2 pm and Saturday (12/12) 1-5 pm, a coat and sock drive for families living in shelters will be hosted by Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries and Community Board 4 (covering Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen). Drop off coats and socks at Metro Baptist Church (410 W. 40th St.).

Tomorrow Friday (12/11) at 12:30 pm, virtual lecture “Holiday Season 1830” discusses the history and traditions of the holidays in New York almost two centuries ago, hosted by the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden. Click the title to access the Zoom.

Tomorrow Friday (12/11) at 1 pm, I’m distributing PPE and testing information in West Harlem, starting at the Grant Houses park entrance (1301 Amsterdam Ave.), sponsored by Community Board 9.

Tomorrow Friday (12/11) from 3-6 pm, stop by the Grand Street Guild Holiday Market for holiday activities and souvenirs in the Grand Street Circle Amphitheater (next to St. Mary’s Church, 440 Grand St.).

Saturday (12/12) at 4:30 pm is the “Annual RING Holiday Party and Tree/Menorah Lighting” at Riverside-Inwood Neighborhood Garden (btwn Seaman Ave., Riverside Dr. and Dyckman St.).

Sunday (12/13) at noon, donate coats to the “Harlem Community Coat Drive,” hosted by Apostle Staci Ramos, 28th Precinct Clergy Council and the Katch Society and cosponsored by me. Drop off coats at the 28th Precinct (2271-89 Frederick Douglass Blvd.).

Sunday (12/13) at 1 pm, celebrate Hanukkah with the Eyal Vilner Big Band, hosted by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. Register here.

Sunday (12/13) at 3 pm, the Cathedral Choir performs masked “Carols for the Community” on the steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Ave.).

Tuesday (12/15) from 10 am – 3 pm, free flu shots, masks and hand sanitizer (bring your own empty bottle) are available at 175th St. and Broadway, hosted by State Senator Robert Jackson, Ryan Health and NYC Test and Trace.

Tuesday (12/15) at 11 am, virtual art seminar “Meaning and Metaphor in the Statue of Liberty” is hosted by the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (12/15) at 1 pm, Upper Manhattan entrepreneurs are invited to the virtual seminar “Search Engine Optimization” to learn how to drive traffic to a website, hosted by the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services and Harlem Entrepreneurial Fund.

Next Thursday (12/17) at 11 am, SBS hosts “Business Finance 1: Getting Started,” teaching the fundamentals of business financial management.

Tuesday (12/15) at 2:30 pm, Housing Court Answers, a tenants’ rights nonprofit, hosts a Zoom on the housing rights of undocumented immigrants. Register here.

Tuesday (12/15) at 3:30 pm, the virtual event “You, Me & COVID: Brainstorming Research Ideas Together” explores COVID-specific research topics important to local communities and provides community-based research training, hosted by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (12/15) at 3:30 pm, virtual roundtable “Defending Density: The Future of Urban Systems In New York” features real estate, transportation and economic development leaders, hosted by Cornell Tech. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (12/15) at 6:30 pm, virtual panel “Effects of COVID on Senior Mental Health” is hosted by Community Board 8 (covering the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island) and Community Board 11 (covering East Harlem). Register here.

Tuesday (12/15) at 7 pm, watch a virtual screening of COVID-era dance film “Plastic Harvest,” presented by the Center at West Park. A talkback with the artists will follow. Click the title to register.

Tuesday (12/15) at 7 pm, the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board hosts the webinar “Introduction to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Packaging & Paper Products & What it Means for New York City.” Access the Zoom here (passcode 544429).

Wednesday (12/16) from 4-6 pm, MSWAB streams “Sacrifice Zone,” a documentary about the Newark community fighting back against receiving Manhattan’s solid waste. At 6:30 pm, the film will be followed by a conversation on local environmental justice efforts. Register for both here.

Wednesday (12/16) at 4 pm, virtual forum “Political savants handicap the city-wide elections” discusses how the 2021 city’s elections will shape up and the impact on city businesses, hosted by Crain’s New York Business. Click the title to register.

Wednesday (12/16) at 6 pm, Two Bridges residents are invited to an information session about the City’s Brooklyn Bridge-Montgomery Coastal Resilience Project, which includes new flood protection measures that will also maintain access to the waterfront. Register here for the webinar (available in English, Spanish and Chinese).

Next Thursday (12/17) at 8:30 am, join the Manhattan Borough Board’s monthly charter-mandated convening of the Borough President and all of Manhattan’s Council Members and Community Board Chairs. Register here.

We will vote on two land-use items:

  • The NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development is seeking to extend the existing Harlem East Harlem Urban Renewal Plan, which sets parameters for future developments in the area.

  • The NYC Dept. of City Planning is seeking to update and make permanent the temporary 2013 Flood Resilience Zoning Text Amendment, which would promote long-term resilient design across the city’s floodplains; allow buildings to adopt resiliency strategies; and provide the zoning tools to facilitate recovery after future floods.​

Next Thursday (12/17) at 3 pm, “COVID-19 Contact Tracing Webinar” answers questions about the NYC Test and Trace Corps. Click the title to register.

Next Thursday (12/17) at 4 pm, “Main Street: How the City’s Heart Connects Us All” author Mindy Fullilove joins Open House New York for a virtual book talk about historic disinvestment in inner-city neighborhoods. Register here.

Next Thursday (12/17) at 6 pm, the Police Athletic League launches its “Sports Vault Series,” a sports documentary-watching and discussion group for kids, which offers a $50 gift card for each session attended. Click the title to register.

Next Friday (12/18) at 11 am, the City Council Committees on Parks & Recreation and Sanitation host a joint hearing on community composting. Register to submit testimony here.

Next Friday (12/18) at 1 pm, owners of small residential properties (5,000-25,000 sq feet) are invited to a virtual “Retrofit Ready” webinar about how to save on heating, electricity and water bills, hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. Click the title to register.

Stay Safe.